Members of NordAN board met last Wednesday in Copenhagen (August 21) with Dagfinn Høybråten, Secretary General of Nordic Council of Ministers and Anders Andersson, chairman of the Welfare Committee of Nordic Council to discuss the future of NC welfare committees alcohol and tobacco policy proposal for 2014-2020.
The proposal “Nordic alcohol and tobacco policies in a public health perspective” from last November has met some criticism and awaits for further support to move forward. NordAN has expressed clear support for this pan-Nordic initiative and invites all member organisations to ask their country representatives at the welfare committee and ministers at the NCM level to give their political support.
The meeting took place at the NCM and NC offices in Copenhagen and was especially important because Dagfinn Høybråten wanted also to take part in this discussion. He expressed strong support to Nordic alcohol policy and reminded how Nordic initiatives have in earlier times played an important role in European alcohol policy developments. He also repeated several times that he sees NordAN to act as an important civil society partner in these matters.
Mr Høybråten has been a spokesperson for passive drinking arguments in Norway, where he has acted as minister of health. In January 2013, he elaborated further on this issue in the Parliament. He pointed out that focusing on passive smoking had strongly increased support for measures to limit smoking, and proposed that the government should seek stronger support for alcohol regulation by using the arguments of passive drinking. He repeated that message also this time in Copenhagen.
Welfare Committees Danish member Finn Sørensen has expressed some concerns about the document but stated at the meeting that “we should´nt exaggerate the differences”. He agreed very much with the harm to others aspect saying that people cant drink if they harm others. Mr Sørensen also raised a need for a new set of arguments to support the development of alcohol policy.
Committee chairman Anders Andersson promised to keep the policy document in the agenda and next time it will be discussed is in September 24 when Welfare Committee will meet in Faroe Islands.
When NordAN board met the next day in the offices of Alcohol and Society it decided to continue to support the NC document and raise the awareness about it among member organisations asking to talk about it with their national politicians and governments.